Admission Pathways

The UW is a great place to study Computer Science and Engineering! Like many UW programs, the CSE department has limited space and a high number of interested students. UW students must apply for admission to CSE through a departmental application. CSE admits 25% to 33% of UW students who apply.

Most people apply through Regular Admissions, after completing about one year of prerequisites at the UW, but we also offer Direct Freshman, transfer, and Non-Traditional admissions pathways:

Regular Admission

The standard process for students who join CSE after completing all all prerequisites in college. Read more below, and on our detailed admissions pages.

Transfer Admission

Transfer applicants are considered for Regular Admission. As of 2015, transfer applicants are selected for admission to CSE based on the standard UW Transfer Application. You do not need to submit a separate CSE application. Read more about CSE transfer admission

High School Direct Admission

This highly-selective process grants CSE admission to incoming freshmen, based on the standard UW Freshman Application. Read more about direct admission

Non-Traditional Admission

This application pathway is for strong students who discover CSE late. Read more about non-traditional admission

Non-Major Access

Access to introductory and upper-division courses for non-CSE majors. Learn more


CSE Regular Admissions Basics

The CSE application process:

UW students apply to CSE online, through the College of Engineering application, for Autumn or Spring admission. Most people apply at the end of their freshman year, or during their sophomore year, after finishing about one year of prerequisite math, science, CSE, and English courses.

    • High school students: Note that CSE Direct Admission is a separate (and very small) admissions path.
    • Transfer students: You do not need to submit a separate CSE application. You will be considered for CSE admission based on your UW transfer application.

How many people we admit:

As of 2016, CSE admits about 300 students per year. This includes Computer Science and Computer Engineering (there‚Äôs no difference in admission to the two majors).  

Because the UW admits more than 1,000 students per year who want to study CSE, and we have space to about about 370 people per year, we admit 25% to 33% of UW students who apply to CSE. While we continue to expand our program dramatically, interest is growing even faster.  

What we look for:

CSE is a challenging program. Successful students have strong academic records showing problem-solving, reasoning, and communication skills. College grades are the biggest factor in CSE admission, especially in math, science, CSE, and English courses. Most admitted students have UW grades of 3.5 and higher in most of their related courses. However, there is no exact formula for determining what will be competitive. Many admitted students have mixed grades, and it's possible to be competitive even if you have some lower grades. Talk to a CSE advisor about your chance of admission.

    •  High school students: Realistically, you can not predict what grades you will earn at the UW. Most freshman-level math and science classes are graded on a tough curve, with median grades for a class set around (or even below) 3.0. This means that most competitive CSE applicants are among the strongest math and science students at the university. Also remember that most students earn lower grades in college than in high school. The UW has lots of resources to help you do well, but we encourage everyone to be realistic about the unpredictable nature of competitive admission.

Beyond grades, CSE wants interesting and motivated students who will contribute positively to our department. A personal statement, a short response related to diversity, and details of your work history will tell us more about your interests and goals. These factors help strong candidates stand out, but they do not make up for low grades -- CSE will not admit someone with a great essay if their grades are clearly not competitive.

Also remember that it is illegal to consider race or gender in any admissions decision at a public school in Washington; there are no quotas in CSE admission, and everyone is admitted based on the same standards.

Other considerations:

Competitive applications can be stressful. Many UW majors are competitive, and many strong students do not get into their first choice of major. Everyone should plan for alternatives, and UW offers lots of interesting programs. Your major does not determine your future. If your goal is to work in the technology industry, remember that tech companies hire people from a variety of majors.

    • High school students: Because you are not guaranteed your first choice of major at the UW, coming here may be a bigger risk than some of your other college options. Many schools admit students directly to their computer science or engineering majors, or have no restriction on what major you declare. If you choose to attend the UW, you should plan to consider multiple majors. You should also consider whether you want to spend your first year or two of college planning for a competitive application, as this may not be an ideal college experience for everyone.
    • Transfer students: You should complete all prerequisites before coming to UW, and you should be admitted directly to CSE. We do not encourage transfer students to enroll at UW as pre-majors if they are only interested in studying CSE -- the risk is too great that you may not be admitted to CSE, and it is hard to graduate in a timely manner if you do not begin your major immediately after transferring.